Part 10 out of 12
to come so natural to him, and we have to fight so hard for 't!
O Lord, help us! O blessed Lord Jesus, do help us!"
"Missis," said Tom, after a while, "I can see that, some how,
you're quite 'bove me in everything; but there's one thing Missis
might learn even from poor Tom. Ye said the Lord took sides
against us, because he lets us be 'bused and knocked round; but ye
see what come on his own Son,--the blessed Lord of Glory,--wan't
he allays poor? and have we, any on us, yet come so low as he come?
The Lord han't forgot us,--I'm sartin' o' that ar'. If we suffer
with him, we shall also reign, Scripture says; but, if we deny Him,
he also will deny us. Didn't they all suffer?--the Lord and
all his? It tells how they was stoned and sawn asunder, and wandered
about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, and was destitute, afflicted,
tormented. Sufferin' an't no reason to make us think the Lord's
turned agin us; but jest the contrary, if only we hold on to him,
and doesn't give up to sin."
"But why does he put us where we can't help but sin?" said
"I think we _can_ help it," said Tom.
"You'll see," said Cassy; "what'll you do? Tomorrow they'll
be at you again. I know 'em; I've seen all their doings; I can't
bear to think of all they'll bring you to;--and they'll make you
give out, at last!"
"Lord Jesus!" said Tom, "you _will_ take care of my soul?
O Lord, do!--don't let me give out!"
"O dear!" said Cassy; "I've heard all this crying and praying
before; and yet, they've been broken down, and brought under.
There's Emmeline, she's trying to hold on, and you're
trying,--but what use? You must give up, or be killed by inches."
"Well, then, I _will_ die!" said Tom. "Spin it out as long as
they can, they can't help my dying, some time!--and, after that,
they can't do no more. I'm clar, I'm set! I _know_ the Lord'll
help me, and bring me through."
The woman did not answer; she sat with her black eyes
intently fixed on the floor.
"May be it's the way," she murmured to herself; "but those that
_have_ given up, there's no hope for them!--none! We live in
filth, and grow loathsome, till we loathe ourselves! And we long
to die, and we don't dare to kill ourselves!--No hope! no hope! no
hope?--this girl now,--just as old as I was!
"You see me now," she said, speaking to Tom very rapidly;
"see what I am! Well, I was brought up in luxury; the first I
remember is, playing about, when I was a child, in splendid
parlors,--when I was kept dressed up like a doll, and company and
visitors used to praise me. There was a garden opening from the
saloon windows; and there I used to play hide-and-go-seek, under
the orange-trees, with my brothers and sisters. I went to a
convent, and there I learned music, French and embroidery, and
what not; and when I was fourteen, I came out to my father's funeral.
He died very suddenly, and when the property came to be settled,
they found that there was scarcely enough to cover the debts; and
when the creditors took an inventory of the property, I was set down
in it. My mother was a slave woman, and my father had always meant
to set me free; but he had not done it, and so I was set down in
the list. I'd always known who I was, but never thought much about it.
Nobody ever expects that a strong, healthy man is going to die.
My father was a well man only four hours before he died;--it was
one of the first cholera cases in New Orleans. The day after the
funeral, my father's wife took her children, and went up to her
father's plantation. I thought they treated me strangely, but
didn't know. There was a young lawyer who they left to settle the
business; and he came every day, and was about the house, and spoke
very politely to me. He brought with him, one day, a young man,
whom I thought the handsomest I had ever seen. I shall never forget
that evening. I walked with him in the garden. I was lonesome and
full of sorrow, and he was so kind and gentle to me; and he told me
that he had seen me before I went to the convent, and that he had
loved me a great while, and that he would be my friend and
protector;--in short, though he didn't tell me, he had paid two
thousand dollars for me, and I was his property,--I became his
willingly, for I loved him. Loved!" said the woman, stopping.
"O, how I _did_ love that man! How I love him now,--and always
shall, while I breathe! He was so beautiful, so high, so noble!
He put me into a beautiful house, with servants, horses, and
carriages, and furniture, and dresses. Everything that money
could buy, he gave me; but I didn't set any value on all that,--I
only cared for him. I loved him better than my God and my own soul,
and, if I tried, I couldn't do any other way from what he wanted me to.
"I wanted only one thing--I did want him to _marry_ me. I thought,
if he loved me as he said he did, and if I was what he seemed
to think I was, he would be willing to marry me and set me free.
But he convinced me that it would be impossible; and he told
me that, if we were only faithful to each other, it was marriage
before God. If that is true, wasn't I that man's wife? Wasn't I
faithful? For seven years, didn't I study every look and motion,
and only live and breathe to please him? He had the yellow fever,
and for twenty days and nights I watched with him. I alone,--and
gave him all his medicine, and did everything for him; and then he
called me his good angel, and said I'd saved his life. We had two
beautiful children. The first was a boy, and we called him Henry.
He was the image of his father,--he had such beautiful eyes, such
a forehead, and his hair hung all in curls around it; and he had
all his father's spirit, and his talent, too. Little Elise, he
said, looked like me. He used to tell me that I was the most
beautiful woman in Louisiana, he was so proud of me and the children.
He used to love to have me dress them up, and take them and me
about in an open carriage, and hear the remarks that people would
make on us; and he used to fill my ears constantly with the fine
things that were said in praise of me and the children. O, those
were happy days! I thought I was as happy as any one could be; but
then there came evil times. He had a cousin come to New Orleans,
who was his particular friend,--he thought all the world of him;--but,
from the first time I saw him, I couldn't tell why, I dreaded him;
for I felt sure he was going to bring misery on us. He got Henry
to going out with him, and often he would not come home nights till
two or three o'clock. I did not dare say a word; for Henry was so
high spirited, I was afraid to. He got him to the gaming-houses; and
he was one of the sort that, when he once got a going there, there
was no holding back. And then he introduced him to another lady,
and I saw soon that his heart was gone from me. He never told me,
but I saw it,--I knew it, day after day,--I felt my heart breaking,
but I could not say a word! At this, the wretch offered to buy me
and the children of Henry, to clear off his gamblng debts, which
stood in the way of his marrying as he wished;--and _he sold us_.
He told me, one day, that he had business in the country, and should
be gone two or three weeks. He spoke kinder than usual, and said
he should come back; but it didn't deceive me. I knew that the
time had come; I was just like one turned into stone; I couldn't
speak, nor shed a tear. He kissed me and kissed the children, a
good many times, and went out. I saw him get on his horse, and I
watched him till he was quite out of sight; and then I fell down,
"Then _he_ came, the cursed wretch! he came to take possession.
He told me that he had bought me and my children; and showed me
the papers. I cursed him before God, and told him I'd die sooner
than live with him."
"`Just as you please,' said he; `but, if you don't behave
reasonably, I'll sell both the children, where you shall never see
them again.' He told me that he always had meant to have me, from
the first time he saw me; and that he had drawn Henry on, and got
him in debt, on purpose to make him willing to sell me. That he
got him in love with another woman; and that I might know, after
all that, that he should not give up for a few airs and tears, and
things of that sort.
"I gave up, for my hands were tied. He had my children;--whenever
I resisted his will anywhere, he would talk about selling them,
and he made me as submissive as he desired. O, what a life it was!
to live with my heart breaking, every day,--to keep on, on, on,
loving, when it was only misery; and to be bound, body and soul,
to one I hated. I used to love to read to Henry, to play to him,
to waltz with him, and sing to him; but everything I did for this
one was a perfect drag,--yet I was afraid to refuse anything.
He was very imperious, and harsh to the children. Elise was a timid
little thing; but Henry was bold and high-spirited, like his father,
and he had never been brought under, in the least, by any one. He was
always finding fault, and quarrelling with him; and I used to live
in daily fear and dread. I tried to make the child respectful;--I
tried to keep them apart, for I held on to those children like
death; but it did no good. _He sold both those children_. He took
me to ride, one day, and when I came home, they were nowhere to
be found! He told me he had sold them; he showed me the money,
the price of their blood. Then it seemed as if all good forsook me.
I raved and cursed,--cursed God and man; and, for a while, I believe,
he really was afraid of me. But he didn't give up so. He told me
that my children were sold, but whether I ever saw their faces
again, depended on him; and that, if I wasn't quiet, they should
smart for it. Well, you can do anything with a woman, when you've
got her children. He made me submit; he made me be peaceable; he
flattered me with hopes that, perhaps, he would buy them back; and
so things went on, a week or two. One day, I was out walking, and
passed by the calaboose; I saw a crowd about the gate, and heard
a child's voice,--and suddenly my Henry broke away from two or
three men who were holding the poor boy screamed and looked into
my face, and held on to me, until, in tearing him off, they tore
the skirt of my dress half away; and they carried him in, screaming
`Mother! mother! mother!' There was one man stood there seemed to
pity me. I offered him all the money I had, if he'd only interfere.
He shook his head, and said that the boy had been impudent and
disobedient, ever since he bought him; that he was going to break
him in, once for all. I turned and ran; and every step of the way,
I thought that I heard him scream. I got into the house; ran, all
out of breath, to the parlor, where I found Butler. I told him,
and begged him to go and interfere. He only laughed, and told me
the boy had got his deserts. He'd got to be broken in,--the sooner
the better; `what did I expect?' he asked.
"It seemed to me something in my head snapped, at that moment.
I felt dizzy and furious. I remember seeing a great sharp
bowie-knife on the table; I remember something about catching it,
and flying upon him; and then all grew dark, and I didn't know any
more,--not for days and days.
"When I came to myself, I was in a nice room,--but not mine.
An old black woman tended me; and a doctor came to see me, and
there was a great deal of care taken of me. After a while, I
found that he had gone away, and left me at this house to be sold;
and that's why they took such pains with me.
"I didn't mean to get well, and hoped I shouldn't; but, in spite
of me the fever went off and I grew healthy, and finally got up.
Then, they made me dress up, every day; and gentlemen used to
come in and stand and smoke their cigars, and look at me, and ask
questions, and debate my price. I was so gloomy and silent, that
none of them wanted me. They threatened to whip me, if I wasn't
gayer, and didn't take some pains to make myself agreeable. At length,
one day, came a gentleman named Stuart. He seemed to have some
feeling for me; he saw that something dreadful was on my heart,
and he came to see me alone, a great many times, and finally
persuaded me to tell him. He bought me, at last, and promised
to do all he could to find and buy back my children. He went
to the hotel where my Henry was; they told him he had been sold
to a planter up on Pearl river; that was the last that I ever heard.
Then he found where my daughter was; an old woman was keeping her.
He offered an immense sum for her, but they would not sell her.
Butler found out that it was for me he wanted her; and he sent me
word that I should never have her. Captain Stuart was very kind
to me; he had a splendid plantation, and took me to it. In the
course of a year, I had a son born. O, that child!--how I loved it!
How just like my poor Henry the little thing looked! But I had
made up my mind,--yes, I had. I would never again let a child
live to grow up! I took the little fellow in my arms, when
he was two weeks old, and kissed him, and cried over him; and then
I gave him laudanum, and held him close to my bosom, while he slept
to death. How I mourned and cried over it! and who ever dreamed
that it was anything but a mistake, that had made me give it the
laudanum? but it's one of the few things that I'm glad of, now.
I am not sorry, to this day; he, at least, is out of pain. What
better than death could I give him, poor child! After a while, the
cholera came, and Captain Stuart died; everybody died that wanted
to live,--and I,--I, though I went down to death's door,--_I lived!_
Then I was sold, and passed from hand to hand, till I grew faded
and wrinkled, and I had a fever; and then this wretch bought me,
and brought me here,--and here I am!"
The woman stopped. She had hurried on through her story, with
a wild, passionate utterance; sometimes seeming to address it
to Tom, and sometimes speaking as in a soliloquy. So vehement and
overpowering was the force with which she spoke, that, for a season,
Tom was beguiled even from the pain of his wounds, and, raising himself
on one elbow, watched her as she paced restlessly up and down, her
long black hair swaying heavily about her, as she moved.
"You tell me," she said, after a pause, "that there is a God,--a
God that looks down and sees all these things. May be it's so.
The sisters in the convent used to tell me of a day of judgment,
when everything is coming to light;--won't there be vengeance, then!
"They think it's nothing, what we suffer,--nothing, what our
children suffer! It's all a small matter; yet I've walked the
streets when it seemed as if I had misery enough in my one heart
to sink the city. I've wished the houses would fall on me, or the
stones sink under me. Yes! and, in the judgment day, I will stand
up before God, a witness against those that have ruined me and my
children, body and soul!
"When I was a girl, I thought I was religious; I used to love
God and prayer. Now, I'm a lost soul, pursued by devils that
torment me day and night; they keep pushing me on and on--and I'll
do it, too, some of these days!" she said, clenching her hand,
while an insane light glanced in her heavy black eyes. "I'll send
him where he belongs,--a short way, too,--one of these nights, if
they burn me alive for it!" A wild, long laugh rang through the
deserted room, and ended in a hysteric sob; she threw herself on
the floor, in convulsive sobbing and struggles.
In a few moments, the frenzy fit seemed to pass off; she
rose slowly, and seemed to collect herself.
"Can I do anything more for you, my poor fellow?" she said,
approaching where Tom lay; "shall I give you some more water?"
There was a graceful and compassionate sweetness in her voice
and manner, as she said this, that formed a strange contrast
with the former wildness.
Tom drank the water, and looked earnestly and pitifully
into her face.
"O, Missis, I wish you'd go to him that can give you living waters!"
"Go to him! Where is he? Who is he?" said Cassy.
"Him that you read of to me,--the Lord."
"I used to see the picture of him, over the altar, when I
was a girl," said Cassy, her dark eyes fixing themselves in an
expression of mournful reverie; "but, _he isn't here!_ there's
nothing here, but sin and long, long, long despair! O!" She laid
her land on her breast and drew in her breath, as if to lift a
Tom looked as if he would speak again; but she cut him short,
with a decided gesture.
"Don't talk, my poor fellow. Try to sleep, if you can."
And, placing water in his reach, and making whatever little
arrangements for his comforts she could, Cassy left the shed.
"And slight, withal, may be the things that bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside forever; it may be a sound,
A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound,--
Striking the electric chain wherewith we're darkly bound."
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE, CAN. 4.
The sitting-room of Legree's establishment was a large, long
room, with a wide, ample fireplace. It had once been hung with
a showy and expensive paper, which now hung mouldering, torn
and discolored, from the damp walls. The place had that peculiar
sickening, unwholesome smell, compounded of mingled damp, dirt and
decay, which one often notices in close old houses. The wall-paper
was defaced, in spots, by slops of beer and wine; or garnished with
chalk memorandums, and long sums footed up, as if somebody had been
practising arithmetic there. In the fireplace stood a brazier full
of burning charcoal; for, though the weather was not cold, the
evenings always seemed damp and chilly in that great room; and
Legree, moreover, wanted a place to light his cigars, and heat his
water for punch. The ruddy glare of the charcoal displayed the
confused and unpromising aspect of the room,--saddles, bridles,
several sorts of harness, riding-whips, overcoats, and various
articles of clothing, scattered up and down the room in confused
variety; and the dogs, of whom we have before spoken, had encamped
themselves among them, to suit their own taste and convenience.
Legree was just mixing himself a tumbler of punch, pouring his
hot water from a cracked and broken-nosed pitcher, grumbling,
as he did so,
"Plague on that Sambo, to kick up this yer row between me and
the new hands! The fellow won't be fit to work for a week,
now,--right in the press of the season!"
"Yes, just like you," said a voice, behind his chair. It was
the woman Cassy, who had stolen upon his soliloquy.
"Hah! you she-devil! you've come back, have you?"
"Yes, I have," she said, coolly; "come to have my own way, too!"
"You lie, you jade! I'll be up to my word. Either behave
yourself, or stay down to the quarters, and fare and work with
"I'd rather, ten thousand times," said the woman, "live in
the dirtiest hole at the quarters, than be under your hoof!"
"But you _are_ under my hoof, for all that," said he, turning
upon her, with a savage grin; "that's one comfort. So, sit
down here on my knee, my dear, and hear to reason," said he,
laying hold on her wrist.
"Simon Legree, take care!" said the woman, with a sharp flash
of her eye, a glance so wild and insane in its light as to
be almost appalling. "You're afraid of me, Simon," she said,
deliberately; "and you've reason to be! But be careful, for I've
got the devil in me!"
The last words she whispered in a hissing tone, close to
"Get out! I believe, to my soul, you have!" said Legree,
pushing her from him, and looking uncomfortably at her.
"After all, Cassy," he said, "why can't you be friends with me,
as you used to?"
"Used to!" said she, bitterly. She stopped short,--a word
of choking feelings, rising in her heart, kept her silent.
Cassy had always kept over Legree the kind of influence that
a strong, impassioned woman can ever keep over the most brutal
man; but, of late, she had grown more and more irritable and
restless, under the hideous yoke of her servitude, and her
irritability, at times, broke out into raving insanity; and this
liability made her a sort of object of dread to Legree, who had
that superstitious horror of insane persons which is common to
coarse and uninstructed minds. When Legree brought Emmeline to
the house, all the smouldering embers of womanly feeling flashed
up in the worn heart of Cassy, and she took part with the girl;
and a fierce quarrel ensued between her and Legree. Legree, in a
fury, swore she should be put to field service, if she would not
be peaceable. Cassy, with proud scorn, declared she _would_ go to
the field. And she worked there one day, as we have described, to
show how perfectly she scorned the threat.
Legree was secretly uneasy, all day; for Cassy had an influence
over him from which he could not free himself. When she presented
her basket at the scales, he had hoped for some concession,
and addressed her in a sort of half conciliatory, half scornful
tone; and she had answered with the bitterest contempt.
The outrageous treatment of poor Tom had roused her still
more; and she had followed Legree to the house, with no particular
intention, but to upbraid him for his brutality.
"I wish, Cassy," said Legree, "you'd behave yourself decently."
"_You_ talk about behaving decently! And what have you been
doing?--you, who haven't even sense enough to keep from spoiling
one of your best hands, right in the most pressing season, just
for your devilish temper!"
"I was a fool, it's a fact, to let any such brangle come up,"
said Legree; "but, when the boy set up his will, he had to be
"I reckon you won't break _him_ in!"
"Won't I?" said Legree, rising, passionately. "I'd like to
know if I won't? He'll be the first nigger that ever came it
round me! I'll break every bone in his body, but he _shall_
Just then the door opened, and Sambo entered. He came
forward, bowing, and holding out something in a paper.
"What's that, you dog?" said Legree.
"It's a witch thing, Mas'r!"
"Something that niggers gets from witches. Keeps 'em from
feelin' when they 's flogged. He had it tied round his neck, with
a black string."
Legree, like most godless and cruel men, was superstitious.
He took the paper, and opened it uneasily.
There dropped out of it a silver dollar, and a long, shining
curl of fair hair,--hair which, like a living thing, twined itself
round Legree's fingers.
"Damnation!" he screamed, in sudden passion, stamping on the
floor, and pulling furiously at the hair, as if it burned him.
"Where did this come from? Take it off!--burn it up!--burn it up!"
he screamed, tearing it off, and throwing it into the charcoal.
"What did you bring it to me for?"
Sambo stood, with his heavy mouth wide open, and aghast with
wonder; and Cassy, who was preparing to leave the apartment,
stopped, and looked at him in perfect amazement.
"Don't you bring me any more of your devilish things!" said he,
shaking his fist at Sambo, who retreated hastily towards the door;
and, picking up the silver dollar, he sent it smashing through
the window-pane, out into the darkness.
Sambo was glad to make his escape. When he was gone, Legree
seemed a little ashamed of his fit of alarm. He sat doggedly
down in his chair, and began sullenly sipping his tumbler
Cassy prepared herself for going out, unobserved by him; and
slipped away to minister to poor Tom, as we have already related.
And what was the matter with Legree? and what was there in a
simple curl of fair hair to appall that brutal man, familiar with
every form of cruelty? To answer this, we must carry the reader
backward in his history. Hard and reprobate as the godless man
seemed now, there had been a time when he had been rocked on the
bosom of a mother,--cradled with prayers and pious hymns,--his now
seared brow bedewed with the waters of holy baptism. In early
childhood, a fair-haired woman had led him, at the sound of Sabbath
bell, to worship and to pray. Far in New England that mother had
trained her only son, with long, unwearied love, and patient prayers.
Born of a hard-tempered sire, on whom that gentle woman had wasted
a world of unvalued love, Legree had followed in the steps of
his father. Boisterous, unruly, and tyrannical, he despised all her
counsel, and would none of her reproof; and, at an early age, broke
from her, to seek his fortunes at sea. He never came home but
once, after; and then, his mother, with the yearning of a heart
that must love something, and has nothing else to love, clung to
him, and sought, with passionate prayers and entreaties, to win
him from a life of sin, to his soul's eternal good.
That was Legree's day of grace; then good angels called him;
then he was almost persuaded, and mercy held him by the hand.
His heart inly relented,--there was a conflict,--but sin got the
victory, and he set all the force of his rough nature against the
conviction of his conscience. He drank and swore,--was wilder and
more brutal than ever. And, one night, when his mother, in the
last agony of her despair, knelt at his feet, he spurned her from
him,--threw her senseless on the floor, and, with brutal curses,
fled to his ship. The next Legree heard of his mother was, when,
one night, as he was carousing among drunken companions, a letter
was put into his hand. He opened it, and a lock of long, curling
hair fell from it, and twined about his fingers. The letter told
him his mother was dead, and that, dying, she blest and forgave him.
There is a dread, unhallowed necromancy of evil, that turns
things sweetest and holiest to phantoms of horror and affright.
That pale, loving mother,--her dying prayers, her forgiving
love,--wrought in that demoniac heart of sin only as a damning
sentence, bringing with it a fearful looking for of judgment and
fiery indignation. Legree burned the hair, and burned the letter;
and when he saw them hissing and crackling in the flame, inly
shuddered as he thought of everlasting fires. He tried to drink,
and revel, and swear away the memory; but often, in the deep night,
whose solemn stillness arraigns the bad soul in forced communion
with herself, he had seen that pale mother rising by his bedside,
and felt the soft twining of that hair around his fingers, till
the cold sweat would roll down his face, and he would spring from
his bed in horror. Ye who have wondered to hear, in the same
evangel, that God is love, and that God is a consuming fire, see
ye not how, to the soul resolved in evil, perfect love is the most
fearful torture, the seal and sentence of the direst despair?
"Blast it!" said Legree to himself, as he sipped his liquor;
"where did he get that? If it didn't look just like--whoo! I thought
I'd forgot that. Curse me, if I think there's any such thing as
forgetting anything, any how,--hang it! I'm lonesome! I mean to
call Em. She hates me--the monkey! I don't care,--I'll _make_
Legree stepped out into a large entry, which went up stairs,
by what had formerly been a superb winding staircase; but the
passage-way was dirty and dreary, encumbered with boxes and
unsightly litter. The stairs, uncarpeted, seemed winding up,
in the gloom, to nobody knew where! The pale moonlight
streamed through a shattered fanlight over the door; the
air was unwholesome and chilly, like that of a vault.
Legree stopped at the foot of the stairs, and heard a voice
singing. It seemed strange and ghostlike in that dreary old house,
perhaps because of the already tremulous state of his nerves.
Hark! what is it?
A wild, pathetic voice, chants a hymn common among the
"O there'll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there'll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!"
"Blast the girl!" said Legree. "I'll choke her.--Em! Em!" he
called, harshly; but only a mocking echo from the walls answered him.
The sweet voice still sung on:
"Parents and children there shall part!
Parents and children there shall part!
Shall part to meet no more!"
And clear and loud swelled through the empty halls the refrain,
"O there'll be mourning, mourning, mourning,
O there'll be mourning, at the judgment-seat of Christ!"
Legree stopped. He would have been ashamed to tell of it,
but large drops of sweat stood on his forehead, his heart beat
heavy and thick with fear; he even thought he saw something white
rising and glimmering in the gloom before him, and shuddered to
think what if the form of his dead mother should suddenly appear
"I know one thing," he said to himself, as he stumbled back
in the sitting-room, and sat down; "I'll let that fellow alone,
after this! What did I want of his cussed paper? I b'lieve
I am bewitched, sure enough! I've been shivering and sweating,
ever since! Where did he get that hair? It couldn't have
been _that!_ I burnt _that_ up, I know I did! It would be a joke,
if hair could rise from the dead!"
Ah, Legree! that golden tress _was_ charmed; each hair had
in it a spell of terror and remorse for thee, and was used by a
mightier power to bind thy cruel hands from inflicting uttermost
evil on the helpless!
"I say," said Legree, stamping and whistling to the dogs,
"wake up, some of you, and keep me company!" but the dogs only
opened one eye at him, sleepily, and closed it again.
"I'll have Sambo and Quimbo up here, to sing and dance one
of their hell dances, and keep off these horrid notions," said
Legree; and, putting on his hat, he went on to the verandah, and
blew a horn, with which he commonly summoned his two sable drivers.
Legree was often wont, when in a gracious humor, to get these
two worthies into his sitting-room, and, after warming them up
with whiskey, amuse himself by setting them to singing, dancing
or fighting, as the humor took him.
It was between one and two o'clock at night, as Cassy was
returning from her ministrations to poor Tom, that she heard the
sound of wild shrieking, whooping, halloing, and singing, from the
sitting-room, mingled with the barking of dogs, and other symptoms
of general uproar.
She came up on the verandah steps, and looked in. Legree and
both the drivers, in a state of furious intoxication, were
singing, whooping, upsetting chairs, and making all manner of
ludicrous and horrid grimaces at each other.
She rested her small, slender hand on the window-blind, and
looked fixedly at them;--there was a world of anguish, scorn,
and fierce bitterness, in her black eyes, as she did so.
"Would it be a sin to rid the world of such a wretch?"
she said to herself.
She turned hurriedly away, and, passing round to a back
door, glided up stairs, and tapped at Emmeline's door.
Emmeline and Cassy
Cassy entered the room, and found Emmeline sitting, pale with
fear, in the furthest corner of it. As she came in, the girl
started up nervously; but, on seeing who it was, rushed forward,
and catching her arm, said, "O Cassy, is it you? I'm so glad you've
come! I was afraid it was--. O, you don't know what a horrid noise
there has been, down stairs, all this evening!"
"I ought to know," said Cassy, dryly. "I've heard it often enough."
"O Cassy! do tell me,--couldn't we get away from this place?
I don't care where,--into the swamp among the snakes,--anywhere!
_Couldn't_ we get _somewhere_ away from here?"
"Nowhere, but into our graves," said Cassy.
"Did you ever try?"
"I've seen enough of trying and what comes of it," said Cassy.
"I'd be willing to live in the swamps, and gnaw the bark
from trees. I an't afraid of snakes! I'd rather have one near me
than him," said Emmeline, eagerly.
"There have been a good many here of your opinion," said Cassy;
"but you couldn't stay in the swamps,--you'd be tracked by
the dogs, and brought back, and then--then--"
"What would he do?" said the girl, looking, with breathless
interest, into her face.
"What _wouldn't_ he do, you'd better ask," said Cassy.
"He's learned his trade well, among the pirates in the West Indies.
You wouldn't sleep much, if I should tell you things I've seen,--things
that he tells of, sometimes, for good jokes. I've heard screams
here that I haven't been able to get out of my head for weeks
and weeks. There's a place way out down by the quarters, where you
can see a black, blasted tree, and the ground all covered with
black ashes. Ask anyone what was done there, and see if they will
dare to tell you."
"O! what do you mean?"
"I won't tell you. I hate to think of it. And I tell you, the
Lord only knows what we may see tomorrow, if that poor fellow
holds out as he's begun."
"Horrid!" said Emmeline, every drop of blood receding from
her cheeks. "O, Cassy, do tell me what I shall do!"
"What I've done. Do the best you can,--do what you must,--and
make it up in hating and cursing."
"He wanted to make me drink some of his hateful brandy,"
said Emmeline; "and I hate it so--"
"You'd better drink," said Cassy. "I hated it, too; and
now I can't live without it. One must have something;--things
don't look so dreadful, when you take that."
"Mother used to tell me never to touch any such thing,"
"_Mother_ told you!" said Cassy, with a thrilling and bitter
emphasis on the word mother. "What use is it for mothers to say
anything? You are all to be bought and paid for, and your souls
belong to whoever gets you. That's the way it goes. I say, _drink_
brandy; drink all you can, and it'll make things come easier."
"O, Cassy! do pity me!"
"Pity you!--don't I? Haven't I a daughter,--Lord knows
where she is, and whose she is, now,--going the way her mother
went, before her, I suppose, and that her children must go,
after her! There's no end to the curse--forever!"
"I wish I'd never been born!" said Emmeline, wringing her hands.
"That's an old wish with me," said Cassy. "I've got used to
wishing that. I'd die, if I dared to," she said, looking out
into the darkness, with that still, fixed despair which was the
habitual expression of her face when at rest.
"It would be wicked to kill one's self," said Emmeline.
"I don't know why,--no wickeder than things we live and do,
day after day. But the sisters told me things, when I was in
the convent, that make me afraid to die. If it would only be the
end of us, why, then--"
Emmeline turned away, and hid her face in her hands.
While this conversation was passing in the chamber, Legree,
overcome with his carouse, had sunk to sleep in the room below.
Legree was not an habitual drunkard. His coarse, strong nature
craved, and could endure, a continual stimulation, that would have
utterly wrecked and crazed a finer one. But a deep, underlying
spirit of cautiousness prevented his often yielding to appetite in
such measure as to lose control of himself
This night, however, in his feverish efforts to banish from his
mind those fearful elements of woe and remorse which woke within
him, he had indulged more than common; so that, when he had discharged
his sable attendants, he fell heavily on a settle in the room, and
was sound asleep.
O! how dares the bad soul to enter the shadowy world of
sleep?--that land whose dim outlines lie so fearfully near to the
mystic scene of retribution! Legree dreamed. In his heavy and
feverish sleep, a veiled form stood beside him, and laid a cold,
soft hand upon him. He thought he knew who it was; and shuddered,
with creeping horror, though the face was veiled. Then he
thought he felt _that hair_ twining round his fingers; and then,
that it slid smoothly round his neck, and tightened and tightened,
and he could not draw his breath; and then he thought voices
_whispered_ to him,--whispers that chilled him with horror. Then
it seemed to him he was on the edge of a frightful abyss, holding
on and struggling in mortal fear, while dark hands stretched up,
and were pulling him over; and Cassy came behind him laughing, and
pushed him. And then rose up that solemn veiled figure, and drew
aside the veil. It was his mother; and she turned away from him,
and he fell down, down, down, amid a confused noise of shrieks,
and groans, and shouts of demon laughter,--and Legree awoke.
Calmly the rosy hue of dawn was stealing into the room.
The morning star stood, with its solemn, holy eye of light, looking
down on the man of sin, from out the brightening sky. O, with what
freshness, what solemnity and beauty, is each new day born; as if
to say to insensate man, "Behold! thou hast one more chance!
_Strive_ for immortal glory!" There is no speech nor language where
this voice is not heard; but the bold, bad man heard it not. He woke
with an oath and a curse. What to him was the gold and purple,
the daily miracle of morning! What to him the sanctity of the star
which the Son of God has hallowed as his own emblem? Brute-like,
he saw without perceiving; and, stumbling forward, poured out a
tumbler of brandy, and drank half of it.
"I've had a h--l of a night!" he said to Cassy, who just
then entered from an opposite door.
"You'll get plenty of the same sort, by and by," said she, dryly.
"What do you mean, you minx?"
"You'll find out, one of these days," returned Cassy, in the
same tone. "Now Simon, I've one piece of advice to give you."
"The devil, you have!"
"My advice is," said Cassy, steadily, as she began adjusting
some things about the room, "that you let Tom alone."
"What business is 't of yours?"
"What? To be sure, I don't know what it should be. If you
want to pay twelve hundred for a fellow, and use him right up in
the press of the season, just to serve your own spite, it's no
business of mine, I've done what I could for him."
"You have? What business have you meddling in my matters?"
"None, to be sure. I've saved you some thousands of dollars,
at different times, by taking care of your hands,--that's all the
thanks I get. If your crop comes shorter into market than any of
theirs, you won't lose your bet, I suppose? Tompkins won't lord it
over you, I suppose,--and you'll pay down your money like a lady,
won't you? I think I see you doing it!"
Legree, like many other planters, had but one form of
ambition,--to have in the heaviest crop of the season,--and he had
several bets on this very present season pending in the next town.
Cassy, therefore, with woman's tact, touched the only string that
could be made to vibrate.
"Well, I'll let him off at what he's got," said Legree;
"but he shall beg my pardon, and promise better fashions."
"That he won't do," said Cassy.
"No, he won't," said Cassy.
"I'd like to know _why_, Mistress," said Legree, in the
extreme of scorn.
"Because he's done right, and he knows it, and won't say
he's done wrong."
"Who a cuss cares what he knows? The nigger shall say what
I please, or--"
"Or, you'll lose your bet on the cotton crop, by keeping
him out of the field, just at this very press."
"But he _will_ give up,--course, he will; don't I know what
niggers is? He'll beg like a dog, this morning."
He won't, Simon; you don't know this kind. You may kill him
by inches,--you won't get the first word of confession out of him."
"We'll see,--where is he?" said Legree, going out.
"In the waste-room of the gin-house," said Cassy.
Legree, though he talked so stoutly to Cassy, still sallied forth
from the house with a degree of misgiving which was not common
with him. His dreams of the past night, mingled with Cassy's
prudential suggestions, considerably affected his mind. He resolved
that nobody should be witness of his encounter with Tom; and
determined, if he could not subdue him by bullying, to defer his
vengeance, to be wreaked in a more convenient season.
The solemn light of dawn--the angelic glory of the
morning-star--had looked in through the rude window of the shed
where Tom was lying; and, as if descending on that star-beam, came
the solemn words, "I am the root and offspring of David, and the
bright and morning star." The mysterious warnings and intimations
of Cassy, so far from discouraging his soul, in the end had roused
it as with a heavenly call. He did not know but that the day of
his death was dawning in the sky; and his heart throbbed with solemn
throes of joy and desire, as he thought that the wondrous _all_,
of which he had often pondered,--the great white throne, with its
ever radiant rainbow; the white-robed multitude, with voices as
many waters; the crowns, the palms, the harps,--might all break
upon his vision before that sun should set again. And, therefore,
without shuddering or trembling, he heard the voice of his persecutor,
as he drew near.
"Well, my boy," said Legree, with a contemptuous kick, "how do
you find yourself? Didn't I tell yer I could larn yer a thing
or two? How do yer like it--eh?
How did yer whaling agree with yer, Tom? An't quite so crank as ye
was last night. Ye couldn't treat a poor sinner, now, to a bit of
sermon, could ye,--eh?"
Tom answered nothing.
"Get up, you beast!" said Legree, kicking him again.
This was a difficult matter for one so bruised and faint;
and, as Tom made efforts to do so, Legree laughed brutally.
"What makes ye so spry, this morning, Tom? Cotched cold,
may be, last night."
Tom by this time had gained his feet, and was confronting
his master with a steady, unmoved front.
"The devil, you can!" said Legree, looking him over. "I believe
you haven't got enough yet. Now, Tom, get right down on yer
knees and beg my pardon, for yer shines last night."
Tom did not move.
"Down, you dog!" said Legree, striking him with his
"Mas'r Legree," said Tom, "I can't do it. I did only what
I thought was right. I shall do just so again, if ever the
time comes. I never will do a cruel thing, come what may."
"Yes, but ye don't know what may come, Master Tom. Ye think
what you've got is something. I tell you 'tan't anything,--nothing
't all. How would ye like to be tied to a tree, and have a slow
fire lit up around ye;--wouldn't that be pleasant,--eh, Tom?"
"Mas'r," said Tom, "I know ye can do dreadful things;
but,"--he stretched himself upward and clasped his hands,--"but,
after ye've killed the body, there an't no more ye can do. And O,
there's all ETERNITY to come, after that!"
ETERNITY,--the word thrilled through the black man's soul with
light and power, as he spoke; it thrilled through the sinner's
soul, too, like the bite of a scorpion. Legree gnashed on him
with his teeth, but rage kept him silent; and Tom, like a man
disenthralled, spoke, in a clear and cheerful voice,
"Mas'r Legree, as ye bought me, I'll be a true and faithful
servant to ye. I'll give ye all the work of my hands, all my time,
all my strength; but my soul I won't give up to mortal man. I will
hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all,--die or live;
you may be sure on 't. Mas'r Legree, I ain't a grain afeard to die.
I'd as soon die as not. Ye may whip me, starve me, burn me,--it'll
only send me sooner where I want to go."
"I'll make ye give out, though, 'fore I've done!" said
Legree, in a rage.
"I shall have _help_," said Tom; "you'll never do it."
"Who the devil's going to help you?" said Legree, scornfully.
"The Lord Almighty," said Tom.
"D--n you!" said Legree, as with one blow of his fist he
felled Tom to the earth.
A cold soft hand fell on Legree's at this moment. He turned,--it
was Cassy's; but the cold soft touch recalled his dream of the
night before, and, flashing through the chambers of his brain,
came all the fearful images of the night-watches, with a
portion of the horror that accompanied them.
"Will you be a fool?" said Cassy, in French. "Let him go!
Let me alone to get him fit to be in the field again. Isn't it
just as I told you?"
They say the alligator, the rhinoceros, though enclosed in
bullet-proof mail, have each a spot where they are vulnerable; and
fierce, reckless, unbelieving reprobates, have commonly this point
in superstitious dread.
Legree turned away, determined to let the point go for the time.
"Well, have it your own way," he said, doggedly, to Cassy.
"Hark, ye!" he said to Tom; "I won't deal with ye now,
because the business is pressing, and I want all my hands;
but I _never_ forget. I'll score it against ye, and sometime
I'll have my pay out o' yer old black hide,--mind ye!"
Legree turned, and went out.
"There you go," said Cassy, looking darkly after him; "your
reckoning's to come, yet!--My poor fellow, how are you?"
"The Lord God hath sent his angel, and shut the lion's
mouth, for this time," said Tom.
"For this time, to be sure," said Cassy; "but now you've got
his ill will upon you, to follow you day in, day out, hanging
like a dog on your throat,--sucking your blood, bleeding away your
life, drop by drop. I know the man."
"No matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted
upon the altar of slavery, the moment he touches the sacred soil
of Britain, the altar and the God sink together in the dust, and
he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible
genius of universal emancipation."
 John Philpot Curran (1750-1817), Irish orator and judge
who worked for Catholic emancipation.
A while we must leave Tom in the hands of his persecutors,
while we turn to pursue the fortunes of George and his wife, whom
we left in friendly hands, in a farmhouse on the road-side.
Tom Loker we left groaning and touzling in a most immaculately
clean Quaker bed, under the motherly supervision of Aunt Dorcas,
who found him to the full as tractable a patient as a sick bison.
Imagine a tall, dignified, spiritual woman, whose clear muslin
cap shades waves of silvery hair, parted on a broad, clear forehead,
which overarches thoughtful gray eyes. A snowy handkerchief of
lisse crape is folded neatly across her bosom; her glossy brown
silk dress rustles peacefully, as she glides up and down the chamber.
"The devil!" says Tom Loker, giving a great throw to the bedclothes.
"I must request thee, Thomas, not to use such language,"
says Aunt Dorcas, as she quietly rearranged the bed.
"Well, I won't, granny, if I can help it," says Tom; "but
it is enough to make a fellow swear,--so cursedly hot!"
Dorcas removed a comforter from the bed, straightened the
clothes again, and tucked them in till Tom looked something like
a chrysalis; remarking, as she did so,
"I wish, friend, thee would leave off cursing and swearing,
and think upon thy ways."
"What the devil," said Tom, "should I think of _them_ for?
Last thing ever _I_ want to think of--hang it all!" And Tom
flounced over, untucking and disarranging everything, in a
manner frightful to behold.
"That fellow and gal are here, I 'spose," said he, sullenly,
after a pause.
"They are so," said Dorcas.
"They'd better be off up to the lake," said Tom; "the
quicker the better."
"Probably they will do so," said Aunt Dorcas, knitting peacefully.
"And hark ye," said Tom; "we've got correspondents in Sandusky,
that watch the boats for us. I don't care if I tell, now.
I hope they _will_ get away, just to spite Marks,--the cursed
"Thomas!" said Dorcas.
"I tell you, granny, if you bottle a fellow up too tight, I shall
split," said Tom. "But about the gal,--tell 'em to dress her up
some way, so's to alter her. Her description's out in Sandusky."
"We will attend to that matter," said Dorcas, with
As we at this place take leave of Tom Loker, we may as well
say, that, having lain three weeks at the Quaker dwelling,
sick with a rheumatic fever, which set in, in company with
his other afflictions, Tom arose from his bed a somewhat
sadder and wiser man; and, in place of slave-catching, betook
himself to life in one of the new settlements, where his talents
developed themselves more happily in trapping bears, wolves, and
other inhabitants of the forest, in which he made himself quite a
name in the land. Tom always spoke reverently of the Quakers.
"Nice people," he would say; "wanted to convert me, but couldn't
come it, exactly. But, tell ye what, stranger, they do fix up a
sick fellow first rate,--no mistake. Make jist the tallest kind
o' broth and knicknacks."
As Tom had informed them that their party would be looked for
in Sandusky, it was thought prudent to divide them. Jim, with
his old mother, was forwarded separately; and a night or two after,
George and Eliza, with their child, were driven privately into
Sandusky, and lodged beneath a hospital roof, preparatory to taking
their last passage on the lake.
Their night was now far spent, and the morning star of liberty
rose fair before them!--electric word! What is it? Is there
anything more in it than a name--a rhetorical flourish? Why, men
and women of America, does your heart's blood thrill at that word,
for which your fathers bled, and your braver mothers were willing
that their noblest and best should die?
Is there anything in it glorious and dear for a nation, that
is not also glorious and dear for a man? What is freedom to
a nation, but freedom to the individuals in it? What is freedom to
that young man, who sits there, with his arms folded over his broad
chest, the tint of African blood in his cheek, its dark fires in
his eyes,--what is freedom to George Harris? To your fathers,
freedom was the right of a nation to be a nation. To him, it is
the right of a man to be a man, and not a brute; the right to call
the wife of his bosom is wife, and to protect her from lawless
violence; the right to protect and educate his child; the right to
have a home of his own, a religion of his own, a character of his
own, unsubject to the will of another. All these thoughts were
rolling and seething in George's breast, as he was pensively leaning
his head on his hand, watching his wife, as she was adapting to her
slender and pretty form the articles of man's attire, in which it
was deemed safest she should make her escape.
"Now for it," said she, as she stood before the glass, and shook
down her silky abundance of black curly hair. "I say, George,
it's almost a pity, isn't it," she said, as she held up some of
it, playfully,--"pity it's all got to come off?"
George smiled sadly, and made no answer.
Eliza turned to the glass, and the scissors glittered as
one long lock after another was detached from her head.
"There, now, that'll do," she said, taking up a hair-brush;
"now for a few fancy touches."
"There, an't I a pretty young fellow?" she said, turning
around to her husband, laughing and blushing at the same time.
"You always will be pretty, do what you will," said George.
"What does make you so sober?" said Eliza, kneeling on one knee,
and laying her hand on his. "We are only within twenty-four
hours of Canada, they say. Only a day and a night on the lake,
and then--oh, then!--"
"O, Eliza!" said George, drawing her towards him; "that is it!
Now my fate is all narrowing down to a point. To come so near,
to be almost in sight, and then lose all. I should never live
under it, Eliza."
"Don't fear," said his wife, hopefully. "The good Lord would
not have brought us so far, if he didn't mean to carry us through.
I seem to feel him with us, George."
"You are a blessed woman, Eliza!" said George, clasping her with
a convulsive grasp. "But,--oh, tell me! can this great mercy be
for us? Will these years and years of misery come to an end?--shall
we be free?
"I am sure of it, George," said Eliza, looking upward, while
tears of hope and enthusiasm shone on her long, dark lashes.
"I feel it in me, that God is going to bring us out of bondage,
this very day."
"I will believe you, Eliza," said George, rising suddenly up,
"I will believe,--come let's be off. Well, indeed," said he,
holding her off at arm's length, and looking admiringly at her,
"you _are_ a pretty little fellow. That crop of little, short
curls, is quite becoming. Put on your cap. So--a little to
one side. I never saw you look quite so pretty. But, it's almost
time for the carriage;--I wonder if Mrs. Smyth has got Harry rigged?"
The door opened, and a respectable, middle-aged woman
entered, leading little Harry, dressed in girl's clothes.
"What a pretty girl he makes," said Eliza, turning him round.
"We call him Harriet, you see;--don't the name come nicely?"
The child stood gravely regarding his mother in her new and
strange attire, observing a profound silence, and occasionally
drawing deep sighs, and peeping at her from under his dark curls.
"Does Harry know mamma?" said Eliza, stretching her hands
The child clung shyly to the woman.
"Come Eliza, why do you try to coax him, when you know that
he has got to be kept away from you?"
"I know it's foolish," said Eliza; "yet, I can't bear to have
him turn away from me. But come,--where's my cloak? Here,--how
is it men put on cloaks, George?"
"You must wear it so," said her husband, throwing it over
"So, then," said Eliza, imitating the motion,--"and I must stamp,
and take long steps, and try to look saucy."
"Don't exert yourself," said George. "There is, now and then,
a modest young man; and I think it would be easier for you
to act that character."
"And these gloves! mercy upon us!" said Eliza; "why, my
hands are lost in them."
"I advise you to keep them on pretty strictly," said George.
"Your slender paw might bring us all out. Now, Mrs. Smyth, you
are to go under our charge, and be our aunty,--you mind."
"I've heard," said Mrs. Smyth, "that there have been men down,
warning all the packet captains against a man and woman, with
a little boy."
"They have!" said George. "Well, if we see any such people,
we can tell them."
A hack now drove to the door, and the friendly family who had
received the fugitives crowded around them with farewell greetings.
The disguises the party had assumed were in accordance with
the hints of Tom Loker. Mrs. Smyth, a respectable woman from the
settlement in Canada, whither they were fleeing, being fortunately
about crossing the lake to return thither, had consented to appear
as the aunt of little Harry; and, in order to attach him to her,
he had been allowed to remain, the two last days, under her sole
charge; and an extra amount of petting, jointed to an indefinite
amount of seed-cakes and candy, had cemented a very close attachment
on the part of the young gentleman.
The hack drove to the wharf. The two young men, as they appeared,
walked up the plank into the boat, Eliza gallantly giving her arm
to Mrs. Smyth, and George attending to their baggage.
George was standing at the captain's office, settling for
his party, when he overheard two men talking by his side.
"I've watched every one that came on board," said one, "and
I know they're not on this boat."
The voice was that of the clerk of the boat. The speaker
whom he addressed was our sometime friend Marks, who, with that
valuable perservance which characterized him, had come on to
Sandusky, seeking whom he might devour.
"You would scarcely know the woman from a white one," said Marks.
"The man is a very light mulatto; he has a brand in one of
The hand with which George was taking the tickets and change
trembled a little; but he turned coolly around, fixed an unconcerned
glance on the face of the speaker, and walked leisurely toward
another part of the boat, where Eliza stood waiting for him.
Mrs. Smyth, with little Harry, sought the seclusion of the
ladies' cabin, where the dark beauty of the supposed little girl
drew many flattering comments from the passengers.
George had the satisfaction, as the bell rang out its farewell
peal, to see Marks walk down the plank to the shore; and drew
a long sigh of relief, when the boat had put a returnless
distance between them.
It was a superb day. The blue waves of Lake Erie danced,
rippling and sparkling, in the sun-light. A fresh breeze blew from
the shore, and the lordly boat ploughed her way right gallantly
O, what an untold world there is in one human heart! Who thought,
as George walked calmly up and down the deck of the steamer,
with his shy companion at his side, of all that was burning in
his bosom? The mighty good that seemed approaching seemed too good,
too fair, even to be a reality; and he felt a jealous dread, every
moment of the day, that something would rise to snatch it from him.
But the boat swept on. Hours fleeted, and, at last, clear and
full rose the blessed English shores; shores charmed by a mighty
spell,--with one touch to dissolve every incantation of slavery,
no matter in what language pronounced, or by what national
George and his wife stood arm in arm, as the boat neared
the small town of Amherstberg, in Canada. His breath grew thick
and short; a mist gathered before his eyes; he silently pressed
the little hand that lay trembling on his arm. The bell rang; the
boat stopped. Scarcely seeing what he did, he looked out his
baggage, and gathered his little party. The little company were
landed on the shore. They stood still till the boat had cleared;
and then, with tears and embracings, the husband and wife, with
their wondering child in their arms, knelt down and lifted up their
hearts to God!
"'T was something like the burst from death to life;
From the grave's cerements to the robes of heaven;
From sin's dominion, and from passion's strife,
To the pure freedom of a soul forgiven;
Where all the bonds of death and hell are riven,
And mortal puts on immortality,
When Mercy's hand hath turned the golden key,
And Mercy's voice hath said, _Rejoice, thy soul is free."_
The little party were soon guided, by Mrs. Smyth, to the
hospitable abode of a good missionary, whom Christian charity has
placed here as a shepherd to the outcast and wandering, who are
constantly finding an asylum on this shore.
Who can speak the blessedness of that first day of freedom?
Is not the _sense_ of liberty a higher and a finer one than any of
the five? To move, speak and breathe,--go out and come in unwatched,
and free from danger! Who can speak the blessings of that rest
which comes down on the free man's pillow, under laws which insure
to him the rights that God has given to man? How fair and precious
to that mother was that sleeping child's face, endeared by the memory
of a thousand dangers! How impossible was it to sleep, in the
exuberant posession of such blessedness! And yet, these two had
not one acre of ground,--not a roof that they could call their
own,--they had spent their all, to the last dollar. They had
nothing more than the birds of the air, or the flowers of the
field,--yet they could not sleep for joy. "O, ye who take freedom
from man, with what words shall ye answer it to God?"
"Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory."
 I Cor. 15:57.
Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in
some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?
The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and
horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant
and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which
may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour
of eternal glory and rest.
But to live,--to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low,
harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every
power of feeling gradually smothered,--this long and wasting
heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life,
drop by drop, hour after hour,--this is the true searching test of
what there may be in man or woman.
When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his
threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come,
his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear
torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven
but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present
excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary
limbs,--came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless,
forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.
Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he
should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after
day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice
and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could
devise. Whoever, in _our_ circumstances, has made trial of pain,
even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it,
must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered
at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the
placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life,
broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing.
He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there
was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season,
Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays
and week-days alike. Why shouldn't he?--he made more cotton by
it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he
could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two
of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned
from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received,
he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes
failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself
down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.
Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had
upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and
despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life
was constantly before his eyes,--souls crushed and ruined, evil
triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom
wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of
Miss Ophelia's letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray
earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would
watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to
redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul
bitter thoughts,--that it was vain to serve God, that God had
forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned
to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline,
but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no
time for him to commune with anybody.
One evening, he was sitting, in utter dejection and prostration,
by a few decaying brands, where his coarse supper was baking.
He put a few bits of brushwood on the fire, and strove to
raise the light, and then drew his worn Bible from his pocket.
There were all the marked passages, which had thrilled his soul so
often,--words of patriarchs and seers, poets and sages, who from
early time had spoken courage to man,--voices from the great cloud
of witnesses who ever surround us in the race of life. Had the
word lost its power, or could the failing eye and weary sense no
longer answer to the touch of that mighty inspiration? Heavily
sighing, he put it in his pocket. A coarse laugh roused him; he
looked up,--Legree was standing opposite to him.
"Well, old boy," he said, "you find your religion don't work,
it seems! I thought I should get that through your wool, at last!"
The cruel taunt was more than hunger and cold and nakedness.
Tom was silent.
"You were a fool," said Legree; "for I meant to do well by you,
when I bought you. You might have been better off than Sambo,
or Quimbo either, and had easy times; and, instead of getting cut
up and thrashed, every day or two, ye might have had liberty to
lord it round, and cut up the other niggers; and ye might have had,
now and then, a good warming of whiskey punch. Come, Tom, don't
you think you'd better be reasonable?--heave that ar old pack of
trash in the fire, and join my church!"
"The Lord forbid!" said Tom, fervently.
"You see the Lord an't going to help you; if he had been, he
wouldn't have let _me_ get you! This yer religion is all a mess
of lying trumpery, Tom. I know all about it. Ye'd better hold to
me; I'm somebody, and can do something!"
"No, Mas'r," said Tom; "I'll hold on. The Lord may help me,
or not help; but I'll hold to him, and believe him to the last!"
"The more fool you!" said Legree, spitting scornfully at him,
and spurning him with his foot. "Never mind; I'll chase you down,
yet, and bring you under,--you'll see!" and Legree turned away.
When a heavy weight presses the soul to the lowest level at
which endurance is possible, there is an instant and desperate
effort of every physical and moral nerve to throw off the weight;
and hence the heaviest anguish often precedes a return tide of joy
and courage. So was it now with Tom. The atheistic taunts of his
cruel master sunk his before dejected soul to the lowest ebb; and,
though the hand of faith still held to the eternal rock, it was a
numb, despairing grasp. Tom sat, like one stunned, at the fire.
Suddenly everything around him seemed to fade, and a vision rose
before him of one crowned with thorns, buffeted and bleeding.
Tom gazed, in awe and wonder, at the majestic patience of the face;
the deep, pathetic eyes thrilled him to his inmost heart; his soul
woke, as, with floods of emotion, he stretched out his hands and
fell upon his knees,--when, gradually, the vision changed: the
sharp thorns became rays of glory; and, in splendor inconceivable,
he saw that same face bending compassionately towards him, and a
voice said, "He that overcometh shall sit down with me on my throne,
even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father on his throne."
How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself,
the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and
drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the
joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation,
disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that
hour loosed and parted from every hope in life that now is, and
offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite.
Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,--types of the
angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the
night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung
often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:
"The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
"And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.
"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun."
Those who have been familiar with the religious histories of
the slave population know that relations like what we have
narrated are very common among them. We have heard some from their
own lips, of a very touching and affecting character. The psychologist
tells us of a state, in which the affections and images of the mind
become so dominant and overpowering, that they press into their
service the outward imagining. Who shall measure what an all-pervading
Spirit may do with these capabilities of our mortality, or the ways
in which He may encourage the desponding souls of the desolate?
If the poor forgotten slave believes that Jesus hath appeared and
spoken to him, who shall contradict him? Did He not say that his,
mission, in all ages, was to bind up the broken-hearted, and set
at liberty them that are bruised?
When the dim gray of dawn woke the slumberers to go forth to the
field, there was among those tattered and shivering wretches one
who walked with an exultant tread; for firmer than the ground he
trod on was his strong faith in Almighty, eternal love. Ah, Legree,
try all your forces now! Utmost agony, woe, degradation, want,
and loss of all things, shall only hasten on the process by which
he shall be made a king and a priest unto God!
>From this time, an inviolable sphere of peace encompassed the
lowly heart of the oppressed one,--an ever-present Saviour
hallowed it as a temple. Past now the bleeding of earthly regrets;
past its fluctuations of hope, and fear, and desire; the human
will, bent, and bleeding, and struggling long, was now entirely
merged in the Divine. So short now seemed the remaining voyage of
life,--so near, so vivid, seemed eternal blessedness,--that life's
uttermost woes fell from him unharming.
All noticed the change in his appearance. Cheerfulness and
alertness seemed to return to him, and a quietness which no
insult or injury could ruffle seemed to possess him.
"What the devil's got into Tom?" Legree said to Sambo. "A while
ago he was all down in the mouth, and now he's peart as a cricket."
"Dunno, Mas'r; gwine to run off, mebbe."
"Like to see him try that," said Legree, with a savage grin,
"wouldn't we, Sambo?"
"Guess we would! Haw! haw! ho!" said the sooty gnome,
laughing obsequiously. "Lord, de fun! To see him stickin' in de
mud,--chasin' and tarin' through de bushes, dogs a holdin' on to
him! Lord, I laughed fit to split, dat ar time we cotched Molly.
I thought they'd a had her all stripped up afore I could get 'em off.
She car's de marks o' dat ar spree yet."
"I reckon she will, to her grave," said Legree. "But now,
Sambo, you look sharp. If the nigger's got anything of this sort
going, trip him up."
"Mas'r, let me lone for dat," said Sambo, "I'll tree de coon.
Ho, ho, ho!"
This was spoken as Legree was getting on his horse, to go to
the neighboring town. That night, as he was returning, he
thought he would turn his horse and ride round the quarters, and
see if all was safe.
It was a superb moonlight night, and the shadows of the graceful
China trees lay minutely pencilled on the turf below, and
there was that transparent stillness in the air which it seems
almost unholy to disturb. Legree was a little distance from the
quarters, when he heard the voice of some one singing. It was not
a usual sound there, and he paused to listen. A musical tenor
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I'll bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes
"Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan's rage,
And face a frowning world.
"Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
May I but safely reach my home,
My god, my Heaven, my All."
 "On My Journey Home," hymn by Isaac Watts, found in many
of the southern country songbooks of the ante bellum period.
"So ho!" said Legree to himself, "he thinks so, does he? How I hate
these cursed Methodist hymns! Here, you nigger," said he, coming
suddenly out upon Tom, and raising his riding-whip, "how dare you
be gettin' up this yer row, when you ought to be in bed? Shut yer
old black gash, and get along in with you!"
"Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, with ready cheerfulness, as he rose
to to in.
Legree was provoked beyond measure by Tom's evident happiness;
and riding up to him, belabored him over his head and shoulders.
"There, you dog," he said, "see if you'll feel so comfortable,
But the blows fell now only on the outer man, and not, as
before, on the heart. Tom stood perfectly submissive; and yet
Legree could not hide from himself that his power over his bond
thrall was somehow gone. And, as Tom disappeared in his cabin,
and he wheeled his horse suddenly round, there passed through his
mind one of those vivid flashes that often send the lightning of
conscience across the dark and wicked soul. He understood full
well that it was GOD who was standing between him and his victim,
and he blasphemed him. That submissive and silent man, whom taunts,
nor threats, nor stripes, nor cruelties, could disturb, roused a
voice within him, such as of old his Master roused in the demoniac
soul, saying, "What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of
Nazareth?--art thou come to torment us before the time?"
Tom's whole soul overflowed with compassion and sympathy for
the poor wretches by whom he was surrounded. To him it seemed
as if his life-sorrows were now over, and as if, out of that strange
treasury of peace and joy, with which he had been endowed from
above, he longed to pour out something for the relief of their
woes. It is true, opportunities were scanty; but, on the way to
the fields, and back again, and during the hours of labor, chances
fell in his way of extending a helping-hand to the weary, the
disheartened and discouraged. The poor, worn-down, brutalized
creatures, at first, could scarce comprehend this; but, when it
was continued week after week, and month after month, it began to
awaken long-silent chords in their benumbed hearts. Gradually and
imperceptibly the strange, silent, patient man, who was ready to
bear every one's burden, and sought help from none,--who stood
aside for all, and came last, and took least, yet was foremost to
share his little all with any who needed,--the man who, in cold
nights, would give up his tattered blanket to add to the comfort
of some woman who shivered with sickness, and who filled the baskets
of the weaker ones in the field, at the terrible risk of coming
short in his own measure,--and who, though pursued with unrelenting
cruelty by their common tyrant, never joined in uttering a word of
reviling or cursing,--this man, at last, began to have a strange
power over them; and, when the more pressing season was past, and
they were allowed again their Sundays for their own use, many would
gather together to hear from him of Jesus. They would gladly have
met to hear, and pray, and sing, in some place, together; but Legree
would not permit it, and more than once broke up such attempts,
with oaths and brutal execrations,--so that the blessed news had
to circulate from individual to individual. Yet who can speak the
simple joy with which some of those poor outcasts, to whom life
was a joyless journey to a dark unknown, heard of a compassionate
Redeemer and a heavenly home? It is the statement of missionaries,
that, of all races of the earth, none have received the Gospel with
such eager docility as the African. The principle of reliance and
unquestioning faith, which is its foundation, is more a native
element in this race than any other; and it has often been found
among them, that a stray seed of truth, borne on some breeze of
accident into hearts the most ignorant, has sprung up into fruit,
whose abundance has shamed that of higher and more skilful culture.
The poor mulatto woman, whose simple faith had been well-nigh
crushed and overwhelmed, by the avalanche of cruelty and wrong
which had fallen upon her, felt her soul raised up by the hymns
and passages of Holy Writ, which this lowly missionary breathed
into her ear in intervals, as they were going to and returning from
work; and even the half-crazed and wandering mind of Cassy was
soothed and calmed by his simple and unobtrusive influences.
Stung to madness and despair by the crushing agonies of a life,
Cassy had often resolved in her soul an hour of retribution,
when her hand should avenge on her oppressor all the injustice and
cruelty to which she had been witness, or which _she_ had in her
own person suffered.
One night, after all in Tom's cabin were sunk in sleep, he was
suddenly aroused by seeing her face at the hole between the logs,
that served for a window. She made a silent gesture for him
to come out.
Tom came out the door. It was between one and two o'clock at
night,--broad, calm, still moonlight. Tom remarked, as the light
of the moon fell upon Cassy's large, black eyes, that there was
a wild and peculiar glare in them, unlike their wonted fixed despair.
"Come here, Father Tom," she said, laying her small hand on
his wrist, and drawing him forward with a force as if the hand
were of steel; "come here,--I've news for you."
"What, Misse Cassy?" said Tom, anxiously.
"Tom, wouldn't you like your liberty?"
"I shall have it, Misse, in God's time," said Tom. "Ay, but
you may have it tonight," said Cassy, with a flash of sudden
energy. "Come on."
"Come!" said she, in a whisper, fixing her black eyes on him.
"Come along! He's asleep--sound. I put enough into his brandy
to keep him so. I wish I'd had more,--I shouldn't have wanted you.
But come, the back door is unlocked; there's an axe there, I put
it there,--his room door is open; I'll show you the way.
I'd a done it myself, only my arms are so weak. Come along!"
"Not for ten thousand worlds, Misse!" said Tom, firmly,
stopping and holding her back, as she was pressing forward.
"But think of all these poor creatures," said Cassy. "We might
set them all free, and go somewhere in the swamps, and find an
island, and live by ourselves; I've heard of its being done.
Any life is better than this."
"No!" said Tom, firmly. "No! good never comes of wickedness.
I'd sooner chop my right hand off!"
"Then _I_ shall do it," said Cassy, turning.
"O, Misse Cassy!" said Tom, throwing himself before her, "for the
dear Lord's sake that died for ye, don't sell your precious soul
to the devil, that way! Nothing but evil will come of it. The Lord
hasn't called us to wrath. We must suffer, and wait his time."
"Wait!" said Cassy. "Haven't I waited?--waited till my head
is dizzy and my heart sick? What has he made me suffer? What has
he made hundreds of poor creatures suffer? Isn't he wringing the
life-blood out of you? I'm called on; they call me! His time's
come, and I'll have his heart's blood!"
"No, no, no!" said Tom, holding her small hands, which were
clenched with spasmodic violence. "No, ye poor, lost soul, that
ye mustn't do. The dear, blessed Lord never shed no blood but his
own, and that he poured out for us when we was enemies. Lord, help
us to follow his steps, and love our enemies."
"Love!" said Cassy, with a fierce glare; "love _such_ enemies!
It isn't in flesh and blood."
"No, Misse, it isn't," said Tom, looking up; "but _He_ gives it
to us, and that's the victory. When we can love and pray over
all and through all, the battle's past, and the victory's
come,--glory be to God!" And, with streaming eyes and choking voice,
the black man looked up to heaven.
And this, oh Africa! latest called of nations,--called to the
crown of thorns, the scourge, the bloody sweat, the cross of
agony,--this is to be _thy_ victory; by this shalt thou reign with
Christ when his kingdom shall come on earth.
The deep fervor of Tom's feelings, the softness of his voice,
his tears, fell like dew on the wild, unsettled spirit of the
poor woman. A softness gathered over the lurid fires of her eye;
she looked down, and Tom could feel the relaxing muscles of her
hands, as she said,
"Didn't I tell you that evil spirits followed me? O! Father
Tom, I can't pray,--I wish I could. I never have prayed since my
children were sold! What you say must be right, I know it must;
but when I try to pray, I can only hate and curse. I can't pray!"
"Poor soul!" said Tom, compassionately. "Satan desires to
have ye, and sift ye as wheat. I pray the Lord for ye. O! Misse
Cassy, turn to the dear Lord Jesus. He came to bind up the
broken-hearted, and comfort all that mourn."
Cassy stood silent, while large, heavy tears dropped from
her downcast eyes.
"Misse Cassy," said Tom, in a hesitating tone, after surveying
her in silence, "if ye only could get away from here,--if the
thing was possible,--I'd 'vise ye and Emmeline to do it; that
is, if ye could go without blood-guiltiness,--not otherwise."
"Would you try it with us, Father Tom?"
"No," said Tom; "time was when I would; but the Lord's given
me a work among these yer poor souls, and I'll stay with 'em
and bear my cross with 'em till the end. It's different with you;
it's a snare to you,--it's more'n you can stand,--and you'd better
go, if you can."
"I know no way but through the grave," said Cassy. "There's no
beast or bird but can find a home some where; even the snakes
and the alligators have their places to lie down and be quiet; but
there's no place for us. Down in the darkest swamps, their dogs
will hunt us out, and find us. Everybody and everything is against
us; even the very beasts side against us,--and where shall we go?"
Tom stood silent; at length he said,
"Him that saved Daniel in the den of lions,--that saves the
children in the fiery furnace,--Him that walked on the sea,
and bade the winds be still,--He's alive yet; and I've faith to
believe he can deliver you. Try it, and I'll pray, with all my
might, for you."
By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long
overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly
sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond?
Cassy had often revolved, for hours, all possible or probable
schemes of escape, and dismissed them all, as hopeless and
impracticable; but at this moment there flashed through her mind
a plan, so simple and feasible in all its details, as to awaken an
"Father Tom, I'll try it!" she said, suddenly.
"Amen!" said Tom; "the Lord help ye!"
"The way of the wicked is as darkness; he knoweth not at what he
 Prov. 4:19.
The garret of the house that Legree occupied, like most other
garrets, was a great, desolate space, dusty, hung with cobwebs,
and littered with cast-off lumber. The opulent family that had
inhabited the house in the days of its splendor had imported a
great deal of splendid furniture, some of which they had taken away
with them, while some remained standing desolate in mouldering,
unoccupied rooms, or stored away in this place. One or two immense
packing-boxes, in which this furniture was brought, stood against
the sides of the garret. There was a small window there, which
let in, through its dingy, dusty panes, a scanty, uncertain light
on the tall, high-backed chairs and dusty tables, that had once
seen better days. Altogether, it was a weird and ghostly place;
but, ghostly as it was, it wanted not in legends among the
superstitious negroes, to increase it terrors. Some few years
before, a negro woman, who had incurred Legree's displeasure, was
confined there for several weeks. What passed there, we do not
say; the negroes used to whisper darkly to each other; but it was
known that the body of the unfortunate creature was one day taken
down from there, and buried; and, after that, it was said that
oaths and cursings, and the sound of violent blows, used to ring
through that old garret, and mingled with wailings and groans of
despair. Once, when Legree chanced to overhear something of this
kind, he flew into a violent passion, and swore that the next one
that told stories about that garret should have an opportunity of
knowing what was there, for he would chain them up there for a week.
This hint was enough to repress talking, though, of course, it did
not disturb the credit of the story in the least.
Gradually, the staircase that led to the garret, and even the
passage-way to the staircase, were avoided by every one in the
house, from every one fearing to speak of it, and the legend was
gradually falling into desuetude. It had suddenly occurred to
Cassy to make use of the superstitious excitability, which was so
great in Legree, for the purpose of her liberation, and that of
The sleeping-room of Cassy was directly under the garret.
One day, without consulting Legree, she suddenly took it upon her,
with some considerable ostentation, to change all the furniture
and appurtenances of the room to one at some considerable distance.
The under-servants, who were called on to effect this movement,
were running and bustling about with great zeal and confusion, when
Legree returned from a ride.
"Hallo! you Cass!" said Legree, "what's in the wind now?"
"Nothing; only I choose to have another room," said Cassy, doggedly.
"And what for, pray?" said Legree.
"I choose to," said Cassy.
"The devil you do! and what for?"
"I'd like to get some sleep, now and then."
"Sleep! well, what hinders your sleeping?"
"I could tell, I suppose, if you want to hear," said Cassy, dryly.
"Speak out, you minx!" said Legree.
"O! nothing. I suppose it wouldn't disturb _you!_ Only groans,
and people scuffing, and rolling round on the garre, floor, half
the night, from twelve to morning!"
"People up garret!" said Legree, uneasily, but forcing a
laugh; "who are they, Cassy?"
Cassy raised her sharp, black eyes, and looked in the face of
Legree, with an expression that went through his bones, as she
said, "To be sure, Simon, who are they? I'd like to have _you_
tell me. You don't know, I suppose!"
With an oath, Legree struck at her with his riding-whip; but
she glided to one side, and passed through the door, and looking
back, said, "If you'll sleep in that room, you'll know all about it.
Perhaps you'd better try it!" and then immediately she shut and
locked the door.
Legree blustered and swore, and threatened to break down the
door; but apparently thought better of it, and walked uneasily
into the sitting-room. Cassy perceived that her shaft had struck
home; and, from that hour, with the most exquisite address, she
never ceased to continue the train of influences she had begun.
In a knot-hole of the garret, that had opened, she had
inserted the neck of an old bottle, in such a manner that when
there was the least wind, most doleful and lugubrious wailing sounds
proceeded from it, which, in a high wind, increased to a perfect
shriek, such as to credulous and superstitious ears might easily
seem to be that of horror and despair.
These sounds were, from time to time, heard by the servants,
and revived in full force the memory of the old ghost legend.
A superstitious creeping horror seemed to fill the house; and
though no one dared to breathe it to Legree, he found himself
encompassed by it, as by an atmosphere.
No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man.
The Christian is composed by the belief of a wise, all-ruling
Father, whose presence fills the void unknown with light and order;
but to the man who has dethroned God, the spirit-land is, indeed,
in the words of the Hebrew poet, "a land of darkness and the shadow
of death," without any order, where the light is as darkness.
Life and death to him are haunted grounds, filled with goblin forms
of vague and shadowy dread.
Legree had had the slumbering moral elements in him roused
by his encounters with Tom,--roused, only to be resisted by the
determinate force of evil; but still there was a thrill and commotion
of the dark, inner world, produced by every word, or prayer, or
hymn, that reacted in superstitious dread.
The influence of Cassy over him was of a strange and singular kind.
He was her owner, her tyrant and tormentor. She was, as he knew,
wholly, and without any possibility of help or redress, in his
hands; and yet so it is, that the most brutal man cannot live
in constant association with a strong female influence, and not be
greatly controlled by it. When he first bought her, she was, as
she said, a woman delicately bred; and then he crushed her, without
scruple, beneath the foot of his brutality. But, as time, and
debasing influences, and despair, hardened womanhood within her,
and waked the fires of fiercer passions, she had become in a measure
his mistress, and he alternately tyrannized over and dreaded her.
This influence had become more harassing and decided, since
partial insanity had given a strange, weird, unsettled cast to all
her words and language.
A night or two after this, Legree was sitting in the old
sitting-room, by the side of a flickering wood fire, that
threw uncertain glances round the room. It was a stormy,
windy night, such as raises whole squadrons of nondescript noises
in rickety old houses. Windows were rattling, shutters flapping,
and wind carousing, rumbling, and tumbling down the chimney, and,
every once in a while, puffing out smoke and ashes, as if a legion
of spirits were coming after them. Legree had been casting up
accounts and reading newspapers for some hours, while Cassy sat in
the corner; sullenly looking into the fire. Legree laid down his
paper, and seeing an old book lying on the table, which he had
noticed Cassy reading, the first part of the evening, took it up,
and began to turn it over. It was one of those collections of
stories of bloody murders, ghostly legends, and supernatural
visitations, which, coarsely got up and illustrated, have a strange
fascination for one who once begins to read them.
Legree poohed and pished, but read, turning page after page,
till, finally, after reading some way, he threw down the book,
with an oath.
"You don't believe in ghosts, do you, Cass?" said he, taking
the tongs and settling the fire. "I thought you'd more sense than
to let noises scare _you_."
"No matter what I believe," said Cassy, sullenly.
"Fellows used to try to frighten me with their yarns at sea,"
said Legree. "Never come it round me that way. I'm too tough
for any such trash, tell ye."
Cassy sat looking intensely at him in the shadow of the corner.
There was that strange light in her eyes that always impressed
Legree with uneasiness.
"Them noises was nothing but rats and the wind," said Legree.
"Rats will make a devil of a noise. I used to hear 'em
sometimes down in the hold of the ship; and wind,--Lord's sake! ye
can make anything out o' wind."
Cassy knew Legree was uneasy under her eyes, and, therefore,
she made no answer, but sat fixing them on him, with that strange,
unearthly expression, as before.
"Come, speak out, woman,--don't you think so?" said Legree.
"Can rats walk down stairs, and come walking through the entry,
and open a door when you've locked it and set a chair against
it?" said Cassy; "and come walk, walk, walking right up to your
bed, and put out their hand, so?"
Cassy kept her glittering eyes fixed on Legree, as she spoke,
and he stared at her like a man in the nightmare, till, when
she finished by laying her hand, icy cold, on his, he sprung back,
with an oath.
"Woman! what do you mean? Nobody did?"
"O, no,--of course not,--did I say they did?" said Cassy,
with a smile of chilling derision.
"But--did--have you really seen?--Come, Cass, what is it,
"You may sleep there, yourself," said Cassy, "if you want
"Did it come from the garret, Cassy?"
"_It_,--what?" said Cassy.
"Why, what you told of--"
"I didn't tell you anything," said Cassy, with dogged sullenness.
Legree walked up and down the room, uneasily.
"I'll have this yer thing examined. I'll look into it,
this very night. I'll take my pistols--"
"Do," said Cassy; "sleep in that room. I'd like to see
you doing it. Fire your pistols,--do!"
Legree stamped his foot, and swore violently.
"Don't swear," said Cassy; "nobody knows who may be hearing you.
Hark! What was that?"
"What?" said Legree, starting.
A heavy old Dutch clock, that stood in the corner of the
room, began, and slowly struck twelve.
For some reason or other, Legree neither spoke nor moved;